The January aerial surveys at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounds produced a low count of Whooping cranes compared to previous years.

USFWS biologists’ census results revealed that only 193 Whoopers were sighted, of which 23 were juveniles. Officials estimate that at least 16 others from this population are wintering in areas distant from their typical locations, some as far away as Nebraska. Five of the Aransas cranes, including a family of three, a juvenile and a lone adult, are known to be wintering in south central Kansas.

The low count is worrisome because at the season’s start, experts estimated the population number could be as high as 300. The drought is drastically changing the habits of the Texas wintering cranes. With a lack of rain and river inflow at estuaries that the cranes depend on, there is a shortage of potable water and a decrease in the supply of their preferred food, blue crabs. As a result, some cranes are deserting the bay areas and flying inland to search for food and water.

We wait anxiously for the report from the next aerial census which is scheduled for mid-February.

Click the link to visit the website of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) to read the most recent full report on the Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population of Whooping cranes. To help ensure an adequate food supply for cranes wintering at Aransas cranes, the WCCA has been urging the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to effect a closure on crabbing in the area. Click here to read that article.

Share Button